Key Estate Planning Documents: Should You Have a Durable Power of Attorney?
There are many estate planning documents that you should consider when formalizing your affairs. One is a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA). A DPOA is a document that allows you to give authority to another person to make financial/legal decisions and to conduct financial transactions on your behalf. This person is called your “attorney in fact” or “agent.” The powers you give your agent can be as limited or as broad as you like, and can include the power to buy property, to invest, to contract, to engage in tax planning, to make gifts, and, very importantly, to plan for government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid benefits for long term care in a nursing home.
A DPOA is a relatively easy, inexpensive mechanism for allowing another person to handle your legal and financial affairs. One of the main advantages is that if you have a DPOA in place, your loved ones can likely avoid having to file a guardianship proceeding, which is costly and time-consuming. A DPOA does not give your attorney in fact legal access for his or her own use. Florida law requires that your attorney, in fact, use your assets for your benefit. However, DPOAs can be abused, so it’s important to designate someone trustworthy and reliable.
Although there are forms available on the internet and even at your local office supply store, they often turn out to be invalid when it comes time for your attorney, in fact, to try to use the document. A qualified attorney will be familiar with the Florida-specific requirements for DPOA forms. Second, an attorney can draft the DPOA to meet your individual needs and ensure that the attorney in fact is capable of exercising the delegated powers.
If you have any questions about a DPOA, I welcome you to call and set up a time to discuss it with me